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The limo pulled up the long cement driveway to the mansion that sat back of the property. The front was a desert oasis with its many live cacti, shrubs, and what flowering plants would bloom in Arizona, ponds and running streams over which the driveway led on wooden arches. Some ponds were graced with different sized waterfalls; each one differed from the other in beauty and the grace it added to the scenery.
Bruce and Greg turned their heads one way then another to look at the unexpected scenes that passed them by. Jonathan smiled knowing they were caught up in the lovely terrain of his Uncle’s front yard, and he knew that soon they would want to meander through it when the sun began to set. He had often done the same, it being his only escape from reality at times. And it always helped him to focus on trying to hang on until something better did come along.
The car stopped before the magnificent edifice that was the mansion itself. Columns lined the passageway to the porch and were accompanied by varying statues between them. The porch was supported in the same manner wrapping itself around the sides of the huge building before them. Statues had been affixed between each column all different in size and shape. Majestic steps rose proudly to the porch bidding its own welcome to those who would visit.
The building itself was a lofty sight to see with three stories of the main part of the mansion that housed many windows of variable shapes and sizes allowing for much light to enter the spacious rooms. Many of the outer rooms of the mansion housed balconies upon which one could step out and enjoy the lovely sunrises and sunsets, or the view of the front yard. A few of these were arranged with patio furniture, tables with umbrellas and so on.
Bruce turned to Greg with a large grin his eyebrows raised in surprise and excitement. “I could get used to this,” he commented to the man on his right.
The doctor chuckled nodding in agreement. “So, could I.”
“Just wait ’till you see the inside,” Jonathan piped and then the corners of his lips were turned up in a broad grin of satisfaction at their reactions to the sight.
“Oh, I’m ready, Jon. You lead the way, babe.” Bruce motioned for the door that the chauffeur opened for them.
Jonathan stepped out waiting for them to join him. A brisk of warm breeze whisked around him causing his hair to float on its gentle currents. He allowed his eyes to adjust to the heated sunlight that was baring down upon him.
And at the moment, all memories of his Uncle had fled him, giving way to the thrill of bringing his new family to what he had basically grown up in, even though the accommodations for him were much different just months ago. He would no longer have to abide by those ruined walls and cramped living space that once was his. Instead, he had the choice of any room he desired to reside in, the thought of that excited him even more, to actually be able to live like a decent human being in his Uncle’s mansion.
Hmm…He smiled again. This was all his now and he could live like a king.
A wave of sensation rippled through his body as he stepped around the car leading the procession of men toward the front door. For the first time in his life he actually felt a freedom he had never really experienced before. It seemed to be accentuated by the occasional gusts of wind that carried his hair to one side as they went.
As they approached the front door, it opened revealing a stately man in a black tux and white shirt, gloves the whole nine yards.
“Mr. Bowman, what a pleasant surprise. We have made your accommodations ready; dinner will be served promptly at 5, sir. And welcome home, sir.” The middle-aged man spoke eloquently to Jonathan in a smooth monotone. His graying hair added to the distinction of his appearance along with the dark richness of his healthy skin.
“Thank you, Forrest. It’s good to be home again.” Jonathan seemed to ignore him, though he spoke to him politely, his attentions on the interior that he remembered all too well.
The foyer was magnificent in its depth and height. The cathedral ceilings had a multitude of skylights cleverly placed to allow both the sun and moonlight to filter through and add further deepness to the shadows. Large ficus and fern plants were situated in a variety of spots surrounded by smaller pots of showy four o’clocks, and desert sunflowers and lilies. Interspersed between the skylights were crossbeams of sandalwood that threw into relief the muted washes of the creamy walls. The crenellated scrollwork was original and not a dust mote could be seen.
A silver salver on a small antique table was situated to the right of the door, to hold calling and business cards of those entering its portals. Jon noted that there were quite a few piling up, mostly condolences he supposed, mail he would have to go through at some point and answer. Men who would want to continue business and men who would be interested in looking Jon up for güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri a continuation of their former relationship. But Jon had news for them. All of them.
Standing before the men, as Bruce and Greg gaped open-mouthed in surprise were the two staircases one on each side of the vast foyer. The carved banisters of the same light sandalwood were ornate in detail, intricate carvings of cherubs and nymphs eating grapes and playing instruments threaded up both sides. The treads were highly polished and bare of any other ornamentation. Discreet sconces were strategically placed in wall recesses every few feet to add low lights up to the open balcony on the second floor, the house then dispersed into two separate wings.
The fieldstone floor added to the coolness inherently necessary for such a high heat area. A large oriental throw rug was scattered in muted tones of blues, blacks and tans that accented and pulled together all of the décor. An antique roll desk was highlighted along the back wall of the curving staircases, highly burnished and containing old fashioned writing instruments on its surface. On either side were two life-sized replicas of Michelangelo’s David, the sheer smoothness of the marble and the poignancy of his features were in evidence. Whoever had recreated the works had a masterful touch, was Greg’s thought as he wandered over to stroke a thigh.
Suspended from the highest point of the ceiling was an old chandelier that easily had a thousand crystal beads that threaded down to about six inches each in little cascading falls of the four tiers. They glistened in the sunlight and with the soft sway of a distant breeze, caused the hall to dance with exploding bursts of light that quickly reshaped and reformed as the prisms shifted. Every once in awhile, a brief rainbow was captured on the wall before melting away. Jon knew that it was a costly piece and extremely heavy. Just to clean it once a year was an all day process requiring four people to maneuver it, two to work the crank gently to lower it and two servants to guide it to about two feet off the floor, so they could polish the gleaming brass finish and fixtures. A careful blend of soft solvents was used to wash the beads.
“Mr. Bowman, if you will not be requiring my services, I should like to resume the last of the preparations for you and your friends, sir.” Forrest spoke drawing Jonathan out of his musings of the moment.
“Yes, Forrest.” He sighed tearing his eyes off the chandelier. “But before you do, would you see if Cora has anything prepared for us for lunch? I’m very hungry, and I know my family is too. Just something light, being it’s so close to dinner.”
“Yes, sir. Of course, sir.” The man bent slightly before turning to leave them.
“Oh, and Forrest…”
The man halted his forward motion pivoting on the ball of a foot to face him once again. “Sir?”
“I’ll be in my Uncle’s office, would you mind bringing our lunches there, please?” Jonathan gave him that boyish grin that always caused the man to return it cheerfully, and now was no different.
“Of course not, sir.” He beamed suddenly in affect of Jonathan’s charming appearance.
“Good.” He breathed in excitedly. “Come on, guys. You’ve gotta see this.” Jonathan then raced to the stairs on the right bounding upward hurriedly.
Bruce and Greg rushed to catch up with him, but thankfully Tony and Peter knew their way to the late Mr. Bowman’s office/room. And when they arrived at the room Jonathan had already moved past the sitting area and office to the huge double doors that separated them from the very bedroom the man had once slept in as well as had many fulfilling moments with Jonathan and Tony.
These doors were very large with intricately crafted molding that drew attention to the artfully placed vines and large leaves. The base of the round knobs on each were at least a hand width in diameter all the way around and gleaming polished brass.
Jonathan slid them open, taking in the familiar view of his uncle’s bedroom. To the right was the large bed that he recalled more than anything else present there. The four tall posts were engraved and embossed with the same vines and leaves as the doors. The artwork extended into the headboard and footboard. It was neatly made with a handsome southwestern spread, skirt and piles of throw pillows of bright colors attractively placed at the head of the bed. And Jonathan knew that beneath the coverlet were the satin sheets he recalled so well.
On each side of the bed there was a pedestal upon which a round glass top rested. One had the cordless phone on which Jim had screamed at Tony about Maurice’s blunders in Russia; beside it was an elegant touch lamp with a hand-painted glass shade of southwestern designs. A huge southwestern sun hung on the wall over the headboard; a hand-painted face smiled down at Jonathan who stood at the foot of the bed. He stood remembering the many acts that had taken place güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri there between him and his uncle, especially the ones, which were the most pleasant and erotic for him. Those had been the nights when Mr. Bowman seemed actually human, and his sanity was intact.
The oversized walk-in closet was across the room, filled with Mr. Bowman’s entire wardrobe, a sizable luxurious bathroom next to it. Not far from the bed was the large jewel cabinet that stood almost as tall as Jonathan was. Its top was level with the young man’s chest and it was as slim as he. The top could be lifted, revealing the divided cushion slats where many rings were lined neatly in rows between the slats. The front was a door that opened revealing the many drawers with more slatted cushions, and compartments in which thousands of dollars worth of jewelry still rested unmolested or disturbed.
Jonathan opened the second drawer reaching as far back as he could manage feeling around to find a secret compartment that he lifted the velvet bag out of. Pulling it out, he turned to find Bruce standing at the door watching him carefully.
“C’me ‘ere, Bruce. I want to show this to you.” He beckoned excitedly with a wave of his hand.
Smiling at the expression on the young man’s face he approached until he stood before him. Jonathan then took one of his hands in his own, turning the palm up where he poured the large heavy diamond into it. Bruce’s face suddenly went blank with almost disbelief of the weight and reality of it. Lifting it with the other hand he gave utter attention to it, studying it fully.
“It’s beautiful, Jon.” He muttered as his fingers slowly scrutinized the cut of the piece attentively.
“Isn’t it, though?” Jonathan chimed with exuberance at Bruce’s response. “And it’s ours, Bruce. Yours, mine, Greg’s, Tony’s and Peter’s. It belongs to us now, one of the rarest ruby diamonds is now, all ours.” Jonathan seemed to be trying to convince himself of the fact as if it hadn’t really sunk in yet.
“Yes, Jon. But for some odd reason, I think it should belong solely to you. It seems to hold something special for you. So, you keep it for yourself.”
Tears formed in his eyes at hearing Bruce say this to him. And it did hold a momentous amount of specialty to Jon, being that his uncle had actually spent the entire day with him showing him his business, interacting with him civilly, and had treated him as if he truly loved him without a doubt. It was the very same day he had shown the diamond to him and told him it was his when his time was ended, the self same day that he told Jonathan numerous times how much he loved him, why and that he was his favorite nephew. This was also the very day Jim had cancelled all of the appointments he had and that Jonathan was supposed to have with certain of the many callers for Jon’s favors.
Bruce dropped the jewel back into the bag giving it back to Jon who secured it in its hiding place once more. When it was done he gently grasped his upper arms pulling the young man to him loosely holding him for a long moment.
“I love you, Jon. I may not understand your grief or the reasons for it, but I still love you regardless. And no matter how long it takes or what you have to do to get through this, I’m behind you all the way.” Bruce whispered close to his ear.
Jonathan pulled back only an inch or so still wanting to be near him yet felt he might be imposing upon the man. Bruce leaned his head down a little coming very close to Jon’s lips.
“Whenever you’re ready to talk about whatever has been bothering you, I’m more than willing and ready to listen, babe.” He informed Jonathan softly.
Jonathan nodded bringing up a hand to wipe the wetness from his now drenched face. He knew what Bruce meant without having to ask but he just wasn’t sure he understood it himself. How could he express it if he didn’t even know what he was talking about? How would he tell him when he had no idea what was going on inside him or what he thought he was seeing from time to time lately?
The silence that hung around them for the moment made Jonathan feel very uncomfortable, as if Bruce waited to hear an explanation. But when the man lightly pressed his lips to Jon’s he realized suddenly that it wasn’t meant to make him feel this way at all. He also realized in the same instant how much he had missed this sort of contact with this man, not having any in the last month.
He leaned into him fully giving himself to his kiss, opening to him at the same moment he did. The feel of Bruce’s arms enclosing him in their protective embrace soothed his ravenous craving for just that, to feel protected by Bruce as well as loved and needed as he had all this time he had lived with him and Greg. And the longer the kiss lingered the tighter Bruce’s arms drew him in and the more impassioned the kiss became.
They heard someone clear his throat finally. “Sir, I do beg your pardon for the intrusion, but you güvenilir bahis şirketleri have a caller downstairs. Shall I send him away, sir?”
Jonathan felt highly frustrated as he pried himself from Bruce’s body. The lingered gazed into the man’s face and eyes pleaded with him to give him more of the same as soon as he returned, and yet not a word was spoken between them as Bruce nodded his answer to him in silence.
“Who is it, Forrest?” Jonathan was so tempted to have the man sent away. But Jim had taught him better. If the man made the effort to come all this way to visit, he should at least go down to see him.
“A Mr. Preston, sir.”
Now Jon’s head snapped to the direction of Forrest’s voice. “No, Forrest, I’ll see him.” He seemed urgent to do just that suddenly as he started toward the butler.
“Sir, whatever reason he has called, can wait for a more opportune time.” Forrest now tried to reason seeing the evidence of grief yet on the young man’s face. “You have only just laid your uncle to rest, and I’m certain that Mr. Preston not only has an unreasonable request of you, but one that can wait.”
Jonathan halted his forward motion giving thought to that. And he had no ill feelings toward the butler’s concern for him so openly before his family, due to the relationship they had forged long ago when he first was brought to live at the mansion with his uncle. Forrest was the first to befriend him and took care of him well, until Tony had arrived, followed by Peter, who became his personal bodyguard and nursemaid. But even when Tony and Peter were absent, off doing whatever it was Jim sent them to do, Forrest always stepped in to take up their slack. He cared for Forrest as much as the butler cared for him. They had a long-standing bond that would always prove itself through the years and events that came.
“He’s right, Jon.” Bruce had come up behind him placing gentle hands on the young man’s shoulders. “You’re in no condition to be seeing anyone of your uncle’s business partners just yet. Give it a little more time and all of that will fall into place.”
“Yes.” The butler agreed. “You must care for yourself before you will be capable of properly caring for your business associates.” Forrest was now showing the care he so felt for Jon in his statement.
Jonathan sighed. “Then tell him I will call him when I’m able to see him, would you, Forrest?” he rescinded his troubled and indecisive confused thoughts to those that loved him so.
“It would be a pleasure, sir.” The man’s countenance seemed to return to its formal self as he spoke, and then turned to perform the given duty. As he started through the door one of Cora’s servants was on her way in with a long stainless steel cart that housed several silver domes covered platter atop it.
“Oh, good.” Jonathan perked suddenly. “Lunch is here. Let’s go out onto the balcony to eat, guys.” He led the way to the double glass doors in the sitting room/office. Opening them he went to the large round table over which an umbrella shielded it from the direct heat of the sun, sitting in the large cushioned wicker chair his uncle would have claimed. The rest of his family joined him at the table as the servant wheeled the cart out behind them. She wiped down the thick glass top table, and then began to serve them iced tea to drink while she prepared a plate for each of them.
Jonathan happened to look down from where he sat to see Mr. Preston standing at the passenger door of his car looking up at him. He could see the evident concern for him written on the man’s face and the old confusion returned. Knowing Bruce and Forrest were right he couldn’t help the growing feeling that he should at least say hello to him.
“I’ll be right back.” He stood rushing around the table disappearing into the room. At an almost run, he raced to the front door jerking it open, to continue toward the man and his car at a more moderate pace. Mr. Preston beamed now as he started toward him meeting him underneath the covered walkway, hidden from view of Jon’s family upstairs.
“Jonathan.” He encircled him in a sympathetic hug. “I do apologize for coming on such short notice, but I had to just see for myself if the rumors were true.”
“Rumors? What rumors?” Jon pulled back from his embrace staring long into his eyes.
“It’s going around that you’ve begun to act just like your uncle, son. Please tell me they’re all exaggerated.” He pleaded the last urgently.
Jon half laughed motioning for him to join him for a walk in the front garden. “I’m struggling with it at times, but I’m fighting it, Mr. Preston.”
“You can’t do that, Jon. You can’t let Jim become a part of you. His legacy has to die along with him or you will never have any kind of peace.” The man spoke as they meandered across the driveway and into the garden leisurely.
“I know, Mr. Preston. And I’m really trying.” Jon returned almost inaudibly.
“Good. You’re better than that snake and I know your mother would be proud of you…”
“You knew my mother?” Jonathan stopped abruptly, facing the man.
A slow almost deceptive grin graced the man’s face.
“Mr. Preston, please don’t play games with my heart right now. I just can’t…” Jonathan rushed on ahead hiding the sudden tears that came again.
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